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Yahoo Blocked Emails About Wall Street Protests 311

Posted by samzenpus
from the you-didn't-type-the-magic-word dept.
itwbennett writes "People trying to email information about the Wall Street protests on Monday using Yahoo mail, found themselves on the receiving end of messages from Yahoo claiming 'suspicious activity'. ThinkProgress.org has a YouTube video of users trying to send emails that mention the 'OccupyWallSt.org' web site, which seemed to be the magic phrase to get your email blocked. Via Twitter, Yahoo announced the blockage was now fixed, but 'there may be residual delays.'"

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Yahoo Blocked Emails About Wall Street Protests

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  • by brian0918 (638904) <brian0918NO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @12:56PM (#37470614)
    Check out the footage of the tens of thousands [youtube.com] that showed up for the Day of Rage at Wall Street.
    • It's not really fair to judge the scale of event by video or photos alone. It's trivial or someone with a little camera skill and some good editing to make ten thousand people look like fifty, or fifty look like ten thousand. That's without even resorting to photoshopping.

      Not saying that's what happened here (It wouldn't be the first time an internet horde has decided to skip an event after realising it'd involve actual travel), but it's a common enough thing to be weary of.
      • ...but it's a common enough thing to be weary of.

        I think you meant "wary"...although both words work in this context :D

    • by guspasho (941623)

      I wonder how many people does a protest need to meet your standards?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @12:58PM (#37470644)

    Mail containing the same URL hit a bunch of spamtraps and caused a lot of complaints. That's the sort of thing that gets your mail blocked.

    Nothing to see here, no grand conspiracy of censorship, just spam filters doing what they do.

    • by wierd_w (1375923) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @01:10PM (#37470788)

      I was going to ask how this url got blacklisted by the spam filter, but it it was unsolicited and mass mailed, then by definition it WAS spam, and the black listing happened automagically when users flagged it as such.

      This scenario makes me wonder if a crowdsourced disruption campaign could disrupt email from major corporations intended for end user inboxes ("special offers" ahem...) simply by having the participants mass email each other a bulk list of urls relating to the target, then have them all report the chain letter as spam.

      That would get a large number of corporate urls blacklisted for suspicious activity. (Assuming there aren't any sweetheart deals in place to specifically whitelist such web addresses, of course.)

      • by fifedrum (611338)

        it happens all the time without organized action, at the top of every hour in fact, people get their rewards emails or whatever and mark them as junk, the next hour, the same sender is blocked (by IP) and the new Foo Rewards emails are blocked (by content). Every hour on the hour because the email delivery companies like to drop it in your inbox just as you sit down at the top of the hour, apparently.

        • by wierd_w (1375923)

          If this already happens, then the approach could be used as a diagnostic tool to catch sweetheart whitelists.

          Something real spammers would pay money to know. (Email header spoofing is old news, but a list of 'always succeeds' addresses would be worth money... not that I am suggesting engaging with such filth, mind, but having such sweetheart deals abused in this way would force the deal to be dissolved rather quickly.)

          Knowing that your email provider always lets, say, dell.com emails through and knowing it

          • I'm not sure if it still does, but Apple's Mail.app used to come with a default mail rule that said anything from @apple.com was not spam. Of course, this rule didn't do any SPF checking, so any mail that had spammer@apple.com as the From: field would skip the spam checks.
          • Well, unless those whitelisted exceptions are checked by source IP addy or MX record back-checks.

          • by fifedrum (611338)

            all our sweetheart deal whitelists are IP based. Still an interesting opportunity for spammers, if they could own a box in that address space, they could send quite a bit of junk before being shutdown. The only issue is that even whitelisted IPs are bound by 550 error count checks, i.e. too many bad destination addresses in a short period of time blocks the IP.

      • by LWATCDR (28044)

        Yep if someone sent me this there is a good chance that I would have marked it spam. Frankly I am glad I didn't get it.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Sarten-X (1102295)

      But this is Slashdot! Everything's the government's fault, or Microsoft's, or Apple's! If you apply the slightest bit of common sense and it affects somebody's perception of some imaginary human right (like the right to have everything you do remain private, regardless of where you do it, or whether you did anything to keep such actions private at the time), then you're part of the problem, too!

      So who are you working for?

    • Their spam filtering is pretty weak if it can categorize something as spam on the basis of a single URL. From what I understand, this was confirmed by different people with Yahoo! accounts.

      Is it censorship or incompetence?

      And why couldn't it be fix immediately?

  • Wow, I don't know a better way of driving users away from an email service, then to try to filter their content. I wonder if the stockholders could sue for mismanagement over something like this? It seems to be a gross mismanagement of the company to do something like this, given that there are a lot of clever users out there that will work out what you are doing pretty quickly.
    • I wonder if the stockholders could sue for mismanagement over something like this?

      Probably not. Now to jump off the deep end they could have been considered to be acting in the best interest of their stock holders as they were blocking e-mails about a protest of wall street.

    • by FatAlb3rt (533682)
      Wow, I don't know a better way of driving users away from an email service, then to try to filter their content.

      Not filtering outgoing email only enables spambots. I use gmail because it does a great job filtering content.
  • ...will not be Yahoo-mailed.

  • This sounds eerily similar to the British monitoring twitter for riots... block the method of communication for the protestors and the problem will fix itself!
    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/technology/2011/08/cameron-considers-blocking-facebook-twitter-after-riots.html [latimes.com]
    http://technology-corner.com/british-police-will-use-twitter-to-monitor-protests.html [technology-corner.com]

    I'm not sure if Yahoo did it intentionally (would be quite the coincidence), but if that is the case, a Yahoo account might not be the best thing to have for

    • Re:Yahoo mail? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @01:09PM (#37470778) Homepage Journal

      It hit a spam trap. No conspiracy, no shadowy people preventing you from yahooing. Not big afroed white dude following you around.

  • by kervin (64171) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @01:06PM (#37470742) Homepage

    I guess that's what I get for getting all my news from Slashdot.

    I work in the Wall Street Area and for the last few days there's been literally dozens of cops, barricades, and they've blocking the subway stop ( at least the "J" which I use ). Coming to think of it, I did see a demonstration go by and a few people holding signs. But there are always demonstrations in the Wall Street area. It's just a common place for the cops to give demonstration permits in Manhattan I think.

    If that what that was, I hate to break it to you guys, but the movement was a huge failure. At least so far. Besides the Authorities toughening security, it was business as usual

    • by 0123456 (636235) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @01:40PM (#37471116)

      I hate to break it to you guys, but the movement was a huge failure.

      That's obviously because no-one knew about it due to Yahoo blocking their emails :).

    • by PhxBlue (562201)

      If that what that was, I hate to break it to you guys, but the movement was a huge failure. At least so far. Besides the Authorities toughening security, it was business as usual.

      I'm not surprised. You want an effective protest on Wall Street? Clog up the place at 7:30 a.m. on a weekday. That's how to get noticed.

    • by StillNeedMoreCoffee (123989) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @02:35PM (#37471674)

      The media did the same thing with the demonstrations in Wisconsin against the Anti-Union law that was hastily passed. Thousands of demonstrators but little coverage, but how strange, any little Tea Party gathering of 20-30 people got national coverage. I guess the rarity of that type of demonstration makes it News (or for the racist and defamatory signs)., whereas large demonstrations against corporate greed are more commonplace and not worthy of note. Or the liberal media really is now the corporate media.

      • by dkleinsc (563838) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @04:38PM (#37473158) Homepage

        The example I typically bring up in these kinds of discussions: In 2003, in anticipation of the start of the Iraq War, peaceniks worldwide organized protests that involved (depending on which source you believe) 5-10 million people, meaning that something like 1 out of every 1000 people in the world were protesting that day. These protests are nearly forgotten. Similarly unreported were the facts that public polls on the Iraq War favor immediate withdrawal by a 20% margin for 5 years, and more recently have developed a similar pattern on the Afghanistan War.

        Noam Chomsky isn't right about everything, but on the idea that corporate-owned media leads to pro-corporate biases he's right on the money. Particularly when the most "liberal" of the major news outlets is owned by General Electric, which profits handsomely from defense contracts.

  • by stox (131684) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @01:08PM (#37470768) Homepage

    Accounts which did not have Yahoo's spam protection enabled did not have this blocked.

  • Does anyone use it for anything else?
    • It's been my regular email for 14 years, and it's my first initial followed by my last name, simple and professional. Just like phone numbers, I don't like to change it, because people never save the new one when you tell them. When I started on my first BS in '99, the university tried to get us to use their university email for everything, but I was one of those people who had the foresight to think to myself, "They're going to make us give up our accounts when we graduate. Why start using something tha

  • No more safe haven for you, Yahoo!

    Now lets see about that kiddie porn passing through your system. Unblocked.

  • In related news... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by arielCo (995647) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @01:18PM (#37470886)
    My corp antivirus is blocking OccupyWallSt.org:

    Trend Micro OfficeScan Event

    URL Blocked

    The URL that you are attempting to access is a potential security risk. Trend Micro OfficeScan has blocked this URL in keeping with network security policy.
    URL: http://occupywallst.org/ [occupywallst.org]
    Risk Level: Dangerous
    Details: Verified fraud page or threat source

    Yay

    • by jank1887 (815982)

      Problem loading page

      The connection was reset

      The connection to the server was reset while the page was loading.
      # The site could be temporarily unavailable or too busy. Try again in a few
      moments.

      # If you are unable to load any pages, check your computer's network
      connection.

      # If your computer or network is protected by a firewall or proxy, make sure
      that Firefox is permitted to access the Web.

  • As others have said - if this URL was sent out en masse in a manner that many people would consider "spammish", then those emails would have been flagged by many as spam, and then future emails with that URL would be MUCH more likely to hit a spam filter.

    Same reason, for example, emails from the Republican National Convention might be more likely to have issues going through gmail than the DNC - Not because of any political affiliations, but because the RNC are a bunch of damn spammers. I usually vote Demo

    • Well at least they're giving the appearance of some understanding of modern communications (just that though, we are talking about politicians who routinely write tech clueless laws), the (D) side of the evil empire just calls my cell or home phone at 8 am(and I work night). A pox on both their houses.
      People need to stop believing the lie that they must vote for one of those two corrupt organizations and vote for the person they want in, not who they think can win (or worse
  • Before everyone starts crying "censorship" consider this, far more likely, scenario:

    Among protesters there are always a number of morons. One of these morons thought it would be a good idea to use a few of his Yahoo mail accounts to send out thousands of emails promoting the OccopyWallSt website. This triggers Yahoo's outgoing spam filter, and OccupyWallSt.org is placed along with CheapViagraForYourPenis.net on the "100% certain spam" list. Any email trying to promote this website is blocked.

    All webmail sit

  • by Timmy D Programmer (704067) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @01:24PM (#37470960) Journal
    I doubt they would knowingly censor emails (other than if it had the earmarks of spam). Why bother I'm sure the percentage of those protesters that use Yahoo as their email is quite small. So blocking them would have little to no effect.
  • There is no other conclusion to The Cloud. You send all your information (email in this case) to a 3rd party you have no real influence over, other than being one of many customers. If they shut down your service for unethical reasons, you are left with a TOS that lets them do anything they want. Outsourcing has massive risks that are never talked about because so many "independent" experts depend on outsourcing for their livelihood that "core business" is the buzzword of the failing companies.
  • I remember hearing about this from a friend, but couldn't find any news articles, didn't see it covered by the TV media, didn't hear about it on the radio, and now it's turning out that ytou can't email about it either...

    And we're complaining about China?

    And BTW: The "SEC" is cracking down on Standard and Poors, as well as anyone else that had the audacity to bet against the US during the credit downgrade.

    How interesting. If any of you still believe you're in the land of the free, I have a bridge in Brookly

    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      "I remember hearing about this from a friend, but couldn't find any news articles, didn't see it covered by the TV media, didn't hear about it on the radio, and now it's turning out that ytou can't email about it either..."
      Really then you suck at looking for news.
      Here let me Google that for you
      http://bit.ly/rodGXK [bit.ly]
      And no rick roll or Goat anything.
      Not much coverage because
      a. Protests happen all the time on wall street.
      b. Just not that many people are involved. If is was the thousands that some claim it would

  • What was there to fix? They put up a block, got caught, and then stopped the block.

    Am I to believe some filter on emails was innocently blocking any mention of the recently created "OccupyWallSt.org"?

    • Yes, people send out a bunch of emails to let people know about some new website OccupyWallSt.org (to a computer easily substituted with ch34pm3d7.com or other spam website) and a large percentage of the recipients click that little "mark as spam" button. The spam filter sees a bunch of messages it thinks are spam all containing the same website and decides that its a spammer's website. Nothing to see here. Move along.

      Please don't assume everyone agrees with the cause or even if they do there are a lot of p

  • Empty Gestures (Score:5, Insightful)

    by morari (1080535) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @02:12PM (#37471450) Journal

    I have yet to see any real protest come from this. You don't change policy by willingly confining yourself to the "free speech zones" that the police have set up. You don't change policy by going limp and zipping your mouth when confronted. You certainly don't change policy by loitering around a park eating pizza all weekend.

    Instead of disrupting Wall Street, this group has done little more than create a weekend spectacle. They've largely played by the rules, and while that's great at making cops look like bullies, it doesn't actually achieve anything beyond a brief morning headline.

    We need real protest. We don't need empty gestures and symbolic marches. We need action. We need rioting, and yes, even outright violence. The system is hostile toward us, why not repay the favor?

    • by tekrat (242117)

      I agree, but Americans are too timid. We're living in a country where everyone owns a gun to "defend themselves" against the government, but when the time comes, they'd rather watch Dancing with the Stars.

      We deserve the government we've got.

    • by dkleinsc (563838)

      We need real protest. We don't need empty gestures and symbolic marches. We need action. We need rioting, and yes, even outright violence. The system is hostile toward us, why not repay the favor?

      Here's the problem with that sort of approach: Rioting and violence makes it easier to portray the protesters as a bunch of anarchist malcontents who will happily invade your home and take your stuff. And it doesn't even take a huge percentage of protesters to create that impression - during the 1999 WTO protests in Seattle approximately 1000 people at most engaged in violence and looting, and yet that is the popular memory, if there is any memory at all, of those protests.

      The reason Egypt and Tunisia worke

  • by couchslug (175151) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @02:49PM (#37471808)

    Nothing to see here. The spam filtering even on my spamdump Yahoo account has been excellent for the eleven years I've used it.

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